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LETTER FROM MIKE: THERE ARE PLACES I REMEMBER ...
THE NEW POETRY COLLECTION : THESE SONGS IN MY HEART
The main picture below is dear to me. It's of myself with Pete Best, the original Beatles drummer, a gifted man and a gentleman. The location is the Casbah Club in West Derby outside Liverpool city where the core elements of the Beatles first came together. The room Pete and I are in, with its cobweb motif, was decorated by Pete, with the help of John and Cyn Lennon, Paul, George and, I think, Ken Brown, in 1960. When I was here with Pete and his brother Roag, who partnered me for the BOBCOM.com filming at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), the vibrations were deeply moving. Like many teens of the 60s, I grew up with the Beatles whispering sedition in my ear. They were revolutionary in a way I, of course, couldn't define then. They were much more than conventional teen icons. They were rebel groundswell like the 19th century Romantics, harbingers of a kind of social freedom our parents and grandparents never even dreamt of. The fact that they were working class kids from Liverpool (the capital of Ireland) was important. The Beatles felt neighbourly when I was twelve, and brotherly tutorial when I was eighteen. They originated, as I did, on fairly mean streets, and they glided across the globe and out into the universe. Their lyrical grace started me writing. I recall the vivid kick of "There's a Place", with that extraordinary corollary, "And it's my mind." And Eleanor Rigby, and For No One, and She Said She Said and Strawberry Fields Forever. As a kid I'd always loved poetry, especially the shadows of Poe and Yeats, but also the Nature Poets like Wordsworth and the confessional adventurers like Berryman and Wallace Stevens. But the first waters you drink are from the magic well, and Lennon's In My Life was the push for my own first poems. The sentiment of Lennon's lyric is the heart of my new book, initially announced with the working title The Magic Triangle Cantos - which is a story in itself. The book will be released in July 2013 under the title An Argument for Sin, which might equally be an argument for sun. It's about childhood, about growing and learning, and the places and people I remember and love.
When I talked with the friends of the Beatles at the Casbah and LIPA I was overwhelmed by the abiding sense of warmth and care. This sounds sentimental. But it's sentimental in the way a classic novel is sentiment-inducing, or the company of loved relatives. I profoundly admire people committed to stewardship, whether of the planet or the next door neighbour's garden. There's something noble about maintenance and continuance, and Liverpudlians have nobility in spades. I wrote fluidly while I was there. I listened to Pete and Roag's stories, and the stories of John Lennon's pals. I heard a familiar, distant patois. "The Beatles really started at the Casbah Club," Pete told me, "and the Casbah was created by Mona, my mother. She was the beginning and she was everything. So much is written and spoken about the Beatles' accomplishment, but not enough of it digs back to source. The Beatles really began with my mother."
The night Pete told me about Mona I went back to my hotel and wrote "What is it without a Prelude?", the first of the 108 cantos in An Argument for Sin. It was, of course, about my mother. And from there a long assembly of poems drafted over the last ten years found their narrative cohesion. I salute my parents. I salute Pete, Roag, Mona and the Beatles. I'm lucky to be on this journey. I hope you enjoy the story of my excursion, of the places I remember, in An Argument for Sin.
We've had a hiatus on BOBCOM, the interactive IT/TV resource for new music artists created by Michael, but he is still front and centre in consolidating the platform in support of new indie artists and the emerging media convergence opportunities. An announcement about BOBCOM is imminent. Much of the last 3 years was spent writing BOBCOM's narrative and supervising writing/production of the Channel 4 TV series Sounds from the Cities starring Mat Horne. While promoting BOBCOM internationally, Michael toured the USA coast-to-coast to introduce Robert Redford: The Biography. Above is a scrapbook of activities. Main picture: Michael at the Casbah Club, West Derby, Liverpool, with Pete Best. Second Row, left to right: 1) Michael discusses the making of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at the American Film Institute Theater, Silver Spring, Maryland; 2) The AFI theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland, June 2011. 3) Book signing at the Palm Springs Film Society. Third Row, left to right: 1) Mike directs actor Mat Horne near Holyrood Castle, Edinburgh for the Channel 4 series BOBCOM presents SOUNDS FROM THE CITIES, February 2011. 2) Directing BOBCOM's poster lady Honey Cleaver (actress Frances Wingate) in Nottingham Forest in March 2011. 3) Pre-film discussion with ex-Beatle Pete Best and production supervisior Roag Best for BOBCOM's Magical History Tour at the Casbah Club, West Derby, Liverpool in July 2011.
EXCERPT from the new poetry collection AN ARGUMENT FOR SIN
An Argument for Sin, "an excursion" in 108 new poems, will be published in July 2013. Below are two poems from the collection. The illustration is from Mike's working journals (See Poetry Notebooks tab).
DOUGLAS SIRK WITH MY MOTHER AND SON
The span of time a folded fan across an elderly lady’s lap or boys’ toy,
the soft and downy horizon, a deer in snow and Jane Wyman’s apple cheeks;
so sit down here, surrounded by the technology and phone accounts of
a half a century, sit with Rollo or fruit pastilles and while away the
astonished truth of her and him and Rock and all that came about.
Douglas Sirk, anonymously in Lugano by the brown autumnal lake,
by the statues of the undebated greats like Ella, by the stagnant water
off the Roman Rhone. The wind, the harvest, the screen and mezzanine,
the pre-revolutionary politics and Restoration inward look,
the Freud and fan and all this earnest fireside stuff that
Aside you I wish to hold your hand, generations popping like
hottub corn, the Christmas beef, the laughing cavaliers: us always.
I wish to hold your hand but, no matter, Douglas Sirk is between us
holding us all, pre- and post- and all and ever.
Snow falls and - this incantation answered - it is indeed December.
NOTES FROM A MUNICIPAL FLOWER BED
Parking. Larking on old shores. The mill. The floss of duties. Wait. Go.
The cross. We bear. The striped tiger crossing. The old hands. The boys.
School stripes. Bars. Chocolate wrappers on a dull bookmaker wind.
The drill. The dill drill. The sliding by of busses. Omni. The steam.
Press. The queuey queue for bread or bolls. The cotton. The rotten cotton.
Windows. The sly shine. Ironised women. Mannequins. Promises.
The new. The shiny shutter. The close. The clothes horse. Closing time.
The elongated river. Dry. The tired mouth. The slow foot. The quake.
Rumble. The city mail. Chain mail. Distended duck. A signal sense. Ease.
At last. The park. The part park. The shallow grave. Verdant hush. Bush.
Waves. Wavy bush. The stiff iris. The yellow. The deck. The red. The white.
Accordance with. Sway. Stay. Stop here. A young conversation. The then.
Here and now continuing. Unpark.